15 moves, 15 minutes, and a dumbbell workout to build arm and chest muscle

This high-intensity dumbbell routine builds upper body muscle in just 15 minutes

Man doing dumbbell incline presses
(Image credit: Getty Images)

In years gone by, you would have been told to grab a set of weights and perform endless reps of bicep curls and chest presses if you wanted to develop your upper body. Fortunately, there's a more varied way to build chest and arm muscle, and it only takes 15 minutes.

You just need a set of the best adjustable dumbbells to get started. These weights are a space-saving alternative to an entire dumbbell rack, and you can quickly change the load mid-workout, allowing you to get the most from each move.

But if you're training in a gym or fitness center with a weights rack, then grab a few dumbbells of varying weights instead. If you're unsure where to start, use these beginner strength training tips to find your ideal load.

Once you have your weights at hand, you can tackle fitness trainer Chris Heria's (opens in new tab) chest and triceps routine. You'll do 15 moves in 15 minutes, exercising intensely for 40 seconds before taking a 20-second break between movements.

The workout is split between the two areas, focusing on your chest before ending with a five-move triceps finisher. The aim is to train intensely and maintain a focus on your form. So, it's worth following along with Heria's demonstrations to practice your technique.

Watch Chris Heria's upper body dumbbell workout

It's a high-intensity routine, designed to get results even when you're short on time, with workout staples like several push-up variations and tricep extensions alongside strength-building moves like incline dumbbell flyes and presses.

This exercise style is known as high-intensity resistance training (HIRT), which is similar to high-intensity interval training but focused on muscle-building activities rather than cardio-based exercise.

However, both techniques are designed to get results in a short amount of time by working your muscles hard and elevating your heart rate to boost your metabolism. This is why a HIIT workout for fat loss is an effective option if you want to drop pounds.

You might be skeptical of a short workout that promises so much, but don't worry, so were we. This is why we put one of Heria's 10-minute dumbbell routines to the test and found it a surprisingly effective way to build muscle in a short amount of time.

If you'd prefer a session with fewer weighted moves, this five-move chest workout at home focus on bodyweight exercises, with one dumbbell move and a single movement with some of the best resistance bands, a more affordable, portable alternative to weights.

James Frew
Staff Writer

James is a London-based journalist and Staff Writer at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.


In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.